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Selous Game Reserve

Selous Game Reserve

Southern Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve, Africa’s largest game reserve, derives its name from Sir Frederick Selous, a famous big game hunter and early conservationist. The Selous was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 due to its wildlife diversity and undisturbed environment.

Encompassing an area of over 21,000 square miles (not counting additional buffer zones), the Selous is about three times the size of South Africa's Kruger National Park and twice the size of Serengeti National Park. To maintain its pristine quality, the reserve permits no permanent human habitation or structures.

Because of its location and its size, the Selous is much quieter (i.e. fewer tourists per square mile) than the parks in the northern parts of the country, and so it remains relatively wild and untouched. Its size makes it difficult to estimate the true extent of the sheer numbers of wildlife within its borders. But its rivers and lakes sustain phenomenal wildlife concentrations, including Africa's largest populations of elephant and wild dog (wild dogs are also called “painted dogs”), and it is possible the same could be said for buffalo, hippo, crocodile, and lion prides.

Uniquely, walking safaris are permitted in the Selous. And boat trips on the Rufiji are also popular. Along the Rufiji River and beyond, an astonishing number of animal and bird species can be found including waterbuck, reedbuck, bushbuck, crocodile, hippo, and black and white colobus monkeys. Navigating the network of lakes and rivers by boat gives you an unusual perspective on the terrain and allow the animals to remain undisturbed by your presence. Sandbanks are crowded with huge crocodiles, exposed mud banks are shaded under red clouds of carmine bee-eaters, and swampy islands are visited by wandering elephants.

Magnificent sickle-horned sable and curly-horned greater kudu tend to keep to the longer grass and wooded shrubby areas. The dry season sees an ancient elephant migration from the Selous to Mozambique's Niassa Game Reserves. This journey crosses one of the largest natural trans-boundary eco-systems in Africa, and at the last consensus it was estimated that 64,400 elephants roam the two parks, with 84% on the Tanzanian side.

Fishing the rivers in the Selous is extremely enjoyable as anglers search for fierce tiger fish and giant vundu catfish (which can get exceed 100 pounds). The vundu is equipped with primitive lungs that enable it to cross land for short distances in search of a new home as the pools shrink each dry season.

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